A Route, Not a Journey

I sort of feel like I just need to get this first posting out of the way. My impulse is to set down an overview of my teaching philosophy complete with key terms, optimistic goals, and valuable lessons I’ve learned after more than 10 years of teaching. But that would contradict the point of this blog. Instead of making a public declaration of my attitudes about teaching, I am going to use this blog to investigate and clarify them. I’m giving myself a deadline. Not so that I can have a life-long philosophy of teaching in the bag, but so that I can keep some pressure on myself to stick to it. I’ll be entering the job market in the fall of 2009. By then, I hope to have worked through my teaching attitudes and practices from as many different angles as possible.

Rather than offering a pedagogical journey, I prefer to think of this blog as a list of locations along a route. I like “route” because it suggests two important aspects of reflective practice. The first is that the process is recursive. Like a mail man, or a paper boy. Focusing on the route as an entity itself, rather than a means toward completion. I don’t want this blog, these reflections, to become goal oriented. Instead, I hope that they become a natural part of my teaching process—to continually investigate the goals and assumptions of my attitudes and practices. The second important aspect of the term “route” is that it works against the idea of a location “out there.” Instead, the route itself becomes the destination. Reflecting on pedagogy becomes part of the pedagogy itself.

I suppose that this “route” I’m trying to map out will change over time. However, I want to offer a list of some of the key terms and other practices I hope will constitute this blog
Key Terms: rhetoric, composition, teaching, knowledge, discourse community, work, profession, text, multimodality, identity, grades, revision, research.

Key Practices: Fostering student investment. Grading student papers. Choosing texts for the classroom. Writing a syllabus. Setting goals and objectives for a course. Managing a classroom. Treating all students with respect—in terms of differences in a culture, language, socio-economic status, gender, orientation, race, and other—and as human beings.

So that’s it then. I’ve officially begun. I can’t imagine there will be many of you out there reading this (seeing as how I am my own most important audience for a project like this), but if you have something to add, I’d love to hear it. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Thanks.

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